December 22, 2011

Sweet almond oil: the budget multitasker



This post marks the first in a recurring series that will be featured on my blog. "Building your natural beauty cabinet" will be all about basic products and ingredients that can be useful in multiple ways to your beauty routine. Think oils, witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, etc. I hope to cover these products and many more in the future. For now, I wanted to start off with something I've really been enjoying lately: sweet almond oil. 

What's great about it:
  • Sweet almond oil is a natural emollient and moisturizer.
  • It's suitable for all skin types.
  • It has little to no odor. 
  • It is rich in vitamins and oleic and linoleic essential fatty acids.
  • It safe. Sweet almond oil has an EWG rating of 0.
  • It's affordable. A 4 oz bottle of pure sweet almond oil can be purchased from around $3 to $9.

Some of its many uses:

  • Run a small amount through your hair to add softness and shine. This is my favorite use for it.
  • For a moisturizing treatment, coat your hair with, wrap in a warm towel and leave it in, ideally, overnight. You can also warm up the oil first to create a hot oil treatment. 
  • Massaging your scalp with it can help promote hair growth.
  • Remove eye makeup by rubbing a small amount on your eyes.
  • Use it as part of face washing using the oil cleansing method.
  • It makes a great night time facial moisturizer for all skin types.  For that matter, it can be used everywhere. Sweet almond oil is popular for use in massage.
  • It can be used in all sorts of homemade beauty recipes such as scrubs and body butter.
  • You can shave with it.
  • Use it as a carrier oil for aromatherapy.

Tips:

  • Go for the cold pressed, 100% pure varieties, if possible. Cold pressed oils contain more nutrients. I actually made the mistake of buying one that has tocopheryl acetate, which isn't the worst thing in the world, but I'd prefer the pure stuff. (It's a recurring theme: you must be vigilant at reading labels)
  • Sweet almond oil can go rancid. It has a shelf life of about 6 to 12 months, which can be extended by keeping it in the refrigerator. Cold, dry places are also good.
  • Slight word of warning: this would be a difficult mistake to make, but you should be sure not to purchase bitter almond oil. This type of oil is not safe for these uses.
  • Sweet almond oil is also not suitable for people with allergies to nuts.

Recommended Brands: NOW Foods, Nature's Alchemy, Aura Cacia (organics variety only). Available at iherb.com or vitacost.com

Disclosure: Contains affiliate links.

December 21, 2011

Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Lipstick in Soft Kiss

If you follow my blog, you will know that I love my Honeybee Gardens lipstick in Karma. I liked it enough to pick up another color when I was making an order from VitaCost. The color I got is called Soft Kiss, and as you can see it is a matte baby pink. I did a swatch of it next to Karma below. It is not quite as opaque as Karma, and I the color  is slightly less cool than it is reading on camera.

I'm a big fan of this color. It's in the same color family as MAC's Viva Glam Gaga, which I used to be obsessed with, but it is much more wearable. It's very girly, but I don't feel like a valley girl or barbie while wearing it. 

It has the same unusual thyme scent, which I really enjoy. And as always, I love the nourishing ingredients like sesame oil and and shea butter, and the lack of synthetic colors. I definitely recommend picking this up if you're a fan of this type of color. For their performance and price, these lipsticks are probably the best value in natural cosmetics!

EWG Rating: 1

Ingredients: canola oil, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter) fruit, beeswax, theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax, tocopherol (vitamin e), origanum vulgare (oregano) leaf extract, thymus vulgaris (thyme) extract, cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon) bark extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower extract, hydrastis canadensis (golden seal) root extract. May Contain: titanium dioxide, iron oxides, ultramarine blue, carmine, manganese violet.

Price: $8.01 at vitacost.com or $8.99 at iherb.com
Click here for $10 off your first vitacost purchase of $30 or more!
or use code JOB127 at iherb.com for $10 off your first purchase of $40 or more, $5 off any purchase less than $40.

December 19, 2011

What I brought home for winter break


At the risk of revealing what a makeup addict I actually am, I decided to share all the items I packed for my month long winter vacation. These are my favorite products right now, so this is sort of a cross between a "what to travel with" and a favorites post. So, let's get started...

Makeup:
For makeup, I brought Priia undereye concealer, rms cream eyeshadow in Lunar and Seduce, Everyday Minerals eyeshadow in Bedtime Story and On the Phone (discontinued), two random brown Bare Minerals matte shadows, Everyday Minerals Soft Bronzer and Everyday Bronzer (I mixed it with a shimmery mica - this product is normally matte), Vapour bronzer in Simmer, Zosimos Botanicals eyeliner in Natural Brown, samples of Everyday Minerals base in Ivory and Sandy Fair, samples of Everyday Minerals blush in Waffle Cone, Snooze Bar and Bollywood (discontinued), Honeybee Gardens lipstick in Karma and Gabriel mascara


Brushes:

As you can see I don't use just one brand of brushes. I use a lot of Sigma, Everyday Minerals, EcoTools and Real Techniques. I will have a full review on the Real Techniques line coming up... I looove these brushes. They are so soft and work very well.For vacation, I wanted to bring enough to do contouring and and multiple colors of eyeshadows. But I should just face it: I am a brush addict.

Skin Care:

For my skin, I brought Acure Eye Cream, Moa balm, Dessert Essence tea tree oil, Aura Cacia sweet almond oil, GentleCare Butt Dust (discontinued), Acure Day Cream, Product and By Nieves The Balm

My main skin concern right now is dryness, so I went a bit crazy with the balms. I'm trying to use up the Egyptian Magic, I really like to put the Moa balm around my nose and eyes, I use Product for lips and hair, and I just really love the smell of the By Nieves Balm. I also brought Acure Eye Cream for night, and Day Cream for the day and mixing with mineral foundation. I use sweet almond oil on my skin at night and to smooth down hair, baby powder for freshening my hair, and tea tree oil has been great to relieve itchiness caused by eczema. I have posts coming up about the uses of tea tree oil and sweet almond oil.




Disclosure: Acure eye cream and day cream, Moa blam, By Nieves The Balm, Honeybee Gardens Karma lipstick and Gabriel mascara were sent to me as P.R. samples. Opinions are 100% mine and I do not feature products on this blog that I do not like. Contains affiliate links.

December 14, 2011

Acure Day Cream

Since switching over to clean products, I've started to understand my skin a lot better. I have this crazy combination skin with an oily t-zone/forehead and really dry cheeks. In the warmer months (most of the year here) my main concern is controlling the oil, but when it gets cold my skin is starving for moisture. This calls for a good face lotion.

In my neck of the woods, it was literally in the 70's for most of November and then one day the temperature dropped at it turned into winter. Because there was such a dramatic change in temperature, my skin freaked out. It got super dry, red and itchy. I felt like my face was on fire. But then my Acure Day Cream came to the rescue! It instantly soothed my skin, and within a day of applying it, the itchy dryness was completely gone. I'd been using it on and off for a couple months, but it wasn't until the weather got cold that I realized what a difference it was making. It's an amazing moisturizer.

I also use  balms and oils at night, but it is nice to use a lotion on your face for day use because it absorbs into the skin quickly and doesn't leave it greasy or sticky. It's perfect to put on right before makeup. I'm also in love with the smell, it's very bright and uplifting. I'm terrible at describing scents, but it's very mild and maybe a bit on the sweet side. 

This is the first natural lotion I've used, and I'm in love. It is definitely a product that measures up to its not so clean counterparts.

Ingredients: Organic Curoxidant Blend (Organic Acai Berry, Organic Blackberry, Organic Rosehips, Organic Elderberry, Organic Nettle Leaf, Organic Cranberry, Organic Goji Berry, Organic Raspberry, Organic Pomegranate, Organic Blueberry), Organic Calendula, Organic Chamomile, Fair Trade Certified™ Organic Yerba Mate, Organic Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Emulsifying Wax NF (Vegetable), Fair Trade Certified™ Organic Cocoa Seed Butter, Organic Safflower Seed Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Glyceryl Stearate SE (vegetable derived), Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Sunflower Oil, Infusion of Organic Calendula Officinalis Flower in Fair Trade Certified™ Organic Olive Oil, Glucono Delta Lactone (fermented Sugar), Carrot Seed Oil, Organic Chlorella pyrenoidosa (Chlorella Growth Factor), Citrus Red Mandarin Oil, Vitamin E, Organic Evening Primrose Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Clove Bud Oil

EWG rating (preliminary): 2. Clove bud oil is rated as a 5 due to allergy/immunotoxicity and use restrictions, but this is the very last ingredient on the list so it is not a large amount. It also contains potassium sorbate, which is at 3, and is also at the end of the list. I still think this a safe product filled with good ingredients.

Price: $18.99 at acureorganics.com. It can also be found at vitacost.com for $15.38. Note: I love the price point. Natural skincare can get expensive, and if you take a look at the ingredients this is full of good stuff. I think it's super reasonable considering the quality.

P.S. I've also been enjoying their resurfacing cream and their eye cream, to be reviewed soon .

Disclosure: A sample of this product was provided as a P.R. sample. This does not affect my opinion of the product. 

November 24, 2011

Gabriel and Zuzu Luxe Mascaras

My very first post on this blog was about Physcician's Formula Organic Wear Masacra, which I hated. So I figured it's about time I share with you some natural mascaras that I love. 

The ones I'm talking about are from Gabriel Cosmetics, and their more trendy line, Zuzu Luxe. I've tested both, and I personally can not distinguish between the two formulas. When I compared them side by side, the Gabriel formula was wetter, but I think that was because it hadn't been open for as long. They also have the exact same brushes and tubes. Gabriel mascara comes in black and black brown, and Zuzu Luxe mascara comes in black, brown, navy and clear.

I'm really amazed that they were able to make a mascara that performs this well with a pretty clean ingredient list. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'd owned several natural mascaras in the past, but it was not until I started using the Zuzu Luxe that I was actually able to part with my drugstore mascara. And that's really saying something for me, because I love full, thick lashes. I found that I really can layer this up a good amount without getting a clumpy, uni-lash mess. It gives a nice amount of volume, and length too. Here's a picture of it freshly applied (sorry for the puffy eyes - I've been getting allergies). 
Another great thing about this mascara is that it that it pretty much lasts all day. Here's pictures taken after a long day that included sweating and a 40 minute bike ride:
The product itself also lasts a long time without drying out. I've been using one tube for more than 2 months and it is still good (and yes, I know I probably should throw it out).

As with every single truly natural mascara out there, it may not live up to your holy grail mascara that you used before you got into the whole non-toxic thing (or maybe you still use because most natural mascaras are mediocre), but it comes very close to it. The reality is that those mascaras work so well because they are full of sythetics and other stuff you probably don't want near your eye. Gabriel/Zuzu Luxe gets close enough to the performance, and I am totally satisfied with it.

The one place for improvement might be the brush. Both mascaras have a pretty standard fiber spool brush. I could only imagine how well this product would work with a brush that has more full, open fibers, like my old favorite - L'Oreal Voluminous. However, I've read before that companies pour massive amounts of money into creating brush prototypes, which may not be feasible for smaller natural beauty brands.

Overall, I really recommend trying out these mascaras. They might just get you to throw out your mainstream mascara too. 

EWG Rating (preliminary): 2. Note: I believe the current rating on the database is based on an old formula. This rating is based on the ingredients listed on Gabriel's website. This product does contain three ingredients with a rating of 3.
IngredientsAqua (Infusion of Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice); Cellulose Gum; Sorbitol; Stearic Acid; Cetearyl Alcohol; Lecithin; Panthenol; Crithmum Maritimum (Sea Fennel) Extract; Tocopheryl Acetate; Euphrasia Officinalis (Eyebright) Extract; Xanthan Gum; Iron Oxides; Hectorite; Titanium Dioxide; Potassium Sorbate
Price: Gabriel is $15.20, Zuzu Luxe is $16.70 gabrielcosmeticsinc.com

Disclosure: A sample of this product was provided by Gabriel Cosmetics. Opinions are 100% mine and I am not compensated for this review.

November 19, 2011

Egyptian Magic


I've been putting off reviewing Egyptian Magic for a while because I feel a little bit conflicted about it. I bought it because I'd read great reviews about it online. This is definitely a product with a lot of hype around it. The description the company uses only adds to this
Kamitian folklore recalls the existence of a miraculous skin cream secretly used by the great sages, mystics, magicians and healers of ancient kamit (ancient egypt), used as an anti-aging skin rejuvenation to maintain radiant, healthy, smooth and glowing skin. This egyptian magic is our take on this legendary skin cream, designed to leave your skin feeling smooth.
Obviously this isn't to be taken too seriously, but I did expect a lot from this stuff. Firstly, I think I would say that calling this a cream in a misnomer. It is a balm or salve texture, which is was a bit of a surprise for me because I ordered it online. It has as pretty neutral smell. I thought it was slightly odd at first but then I got used to it, and now I like it. A little bit goes a long way, so one tub should last a long time.

The company claims that Egyptian Magic is good for burns, cuts, scrapes, scars, rashes, eczema and psoriasis. I don't suffer from all of those ailments, so I can only speak to some of it's uses. Here are my experiences:

  • First off, I enjoy it as a moisturizer. It is way too heavy and greasy to wear during the day, but it is great as an overnight treatment. My skin got a bit clearer when I used this every night.  It's also a great thing to put around a sore nose when you're sick.
  • I had a skin biopsy several months ago, and the nurse told me to put Aquaphor on the spot to take care of it. Of course I wasn't going to use something that was composed mainly of petroleum jelly and mineral oil, so the first week I was stupid and didn't put anything on it. Then a light bulb went off and I figured I would try using Egyptian Magic. Overnight I noticed a huge difference in how much it had healed. Was it the Egyptian Magic or just a coincidence? I really don't know, but either way I continued to use it and the giant scab went away fairly quickly.
  • I also have a tendency to get eczema around my eyes. They get extremely itchy, and the saleswoman at Whole Foods suggested using Egyptian Magic. Unfortunately, I did not think this helped at all for that. (What does? Tea tree oil, but that's for another post...)
  • The first time I tried an Egyptian Magic hair masque, I didn't notice a huge difference. The second time I combined it with sweet almond oil and coconut oil, and it made my hair super soft. Then again, maybe it was the coconut oil or the sweet almond oil.
So as you can see, I do think this is a nice product, but I also do not think it's totally amazing. I can't argue with the simple list of natural ingredients: olive oil, beeswax, honey, bee pollen, royal jelly & propolis extract. And with so many applications, it's definitely useful. But is it a magic miracle cream? Not so much, in my opinion. The price is actually fairly reasonable compared to other brands because of the quantity you get. So while I still think it is expensive, if you use it a lot it is not too overpriced. I am still using it for my face at night and it provide nice moisture, but there are several other moisturizers I'd like to try before repurchasing this one. Also I'd really like to see more eco-friendly glass instead of plastic.

Ingredients: olive oil, bees wax, honey, bee pollen, royal jelly, bee propolis

Where to buy: $30.15 from amazon.com 

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Disclosure: Contains affiliate link. Using these links helps support this blog. I always link to the best deals I know of. 

October 23, 2011

De-grease and volumize your hair on the cheap - naturally



Lately I have seen other beauty blogs talking about the benefits of dry shampoo. What exactly is dry shampoo? Basically, it is a powder or spray used on the hair to remove greasiness and give the hair extra volume. I am all for both of these uses, but there are two things I do not like about dry shampoo:

1. Many brands have chemical ingredients, talc and fragrances that I do not feel comfortable rubbing all over my scalp and,
2. A lot of the natural brands tend to be pretty expensive. I saw a nice looking product that cost a whopping $30!

Luckily, I have never wasted a penny on dry shampoo because I have something that works just the same: baby powder. I started using this my freshman year of college because my roommate always used it. When I was in high school I would wash my hair every single day, but as my life has gotten busier over the past couple of years, I figured out that that wasn't necessary at all. In fact, it is healthier to give your hair a bit of a break. If my hair gets a little greasy in between washes, I just dab a little baby powder here and there and it's good as new. The amount of volume it gives your hair is also awesome. I get more compliments on my hair when it's a bit "dirty" and has baby powder in it than when it's freshly washed.

I do have to warn you to not go overboard with this stuff, especially if you have darker hair. If you use too much, your hair can get a white greyish cast, which can be especially visible with flash photography. Also, it's obviously not a substitute for washing your hair all together.

When purchasing baby powder, be absolutely sure to get one that is talc free. Talc is a dangerous because it acts like and can be contaminated with asbestos. It especially should not be inhaled, which very likely to happen with a loose powder. Also be aware that many baby powders have added fragrance.

My current go to is GentleCare Butt Dust. I love this brand because it is very inexpensive, has simple, unambiguous ingredients, and smells light and refreshing. It can be bought here from Vitacost for $7. There are several other natural brands on that website, but some use natural fragrance that isn't specified, so I feel safer using this because it has lavender oil and rose buds.

EWG rating (preliminary): 1

Ingredients: Corn starch, kaolin (clay), bentonite (clay), sodium bicarbonate, rosa centifolia (rose buds and petals), comiphora molmol (myrhh) gum, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil.

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October 16, 2011

Product review



My friend and I often send each other pictures of the food we are eating, and one time I sent her a picture from a restaurant called The Store. As you could imagine, this was confusing conversation:
Me: [Picture message of food]

Friend: Where is it from?
Me: It's a salad from The Store
Friend: What store
Me: The Store is the only good place for lunch downtown
Friend: What store??
Me: It’s called The Store....


The product I am taking about can cause similar confusion, because it is called, quite simply Product. Can you imagine?


"I love Product!"

"What product?"
"Product."
"Which one?"

"No, the product is called Product!"

Slight confusion aside, this product lives up to it's title because it is simple, straight forward and effective. As I mentioned in my last post, this is one of my all time favorite beauty finds. It has become so essential to me everyday.


It's primary use is as a hair pomade. You use it by taking a small amount, warming it between your fingers, and running it through your hair. This will help smooth out any frizz. What is really amazing is how much it softens and moisturizes. I found that when I add it to my naturally curly hair, and then flat iron it, I get the smoothest and silkiest texture. Of course a flat iron will make your hair smooth and less frizzy, but I really noticed a dramatic difference in the softness with Product. I now use it everyday, whether I'm leaving it curly or straightening it. It's really nice to know you have something in your hair that is keeping it healthy and moisturized.


Because all of the ingredients are natural and moisturizing, it can also be used as a lip balm. This may not seem like that big of a deal because chances are you already have some natural lip blams or salve, but it is! Before I started using product, I was getting the worst flakey, dry lips. It was 
unsightly and painful. I tried putting every sort of moisturizer possible on them, but nothing was working. When I first tried Product on them, I could feel an instant difference - it smoothed over the dryness and made my lips feel much better. It just melts right into your lips. It is my theory that it somehow absorbs into the lips better and faster than other balms. Maybe it's the ratio of ingredients or the aloe vera oil? Whatever the case this is now my go to balm and it comes with me pretty much everywhere. It's so convenient to have one portable product for hair, lips, or even dry hands and cuticles.


One last note is that Product comes in a sturdy (I've dropped it several times) glass container. This is a really great consideration, because as Rose Marie Swift put it - plastic pollutes the product and it pollutes the 
environment.


Ingredients
shea butter*, aloe vera oil*, wild-harvested white beeswax, natural source vitamin E (tocopherol), tangerine essential oil. *USDA certified organic

Price: Retails for $14 at thenameisproduct.com, but you can find it on ecobold.com for $9.99 with free shipping!

Disclosure: A sample of this product was sent to me from the company. My 
opinions are 100% honest. I really, really love this product.

October 5, 2011

Early fall favorites



I wanted to do another post similar to one I did previously about my current favorite products. I really love all of these items, and have been grabbing for them all month long. There's a bunch of items I chose to share, so hopefully there is something you are interested in.


Product
I have a full review of Product coming soon, but I have to mention now how much I've been loving it. I use it as both a hair pomade and a lip balm, and it works absolutely amazingly for both purposes. This is one of my absolute favorite natural beauty finds.
Ingredients: Certified organic shea butter, certified organic aloe vera, natural source vitamin E (tocopherol), wild-harvested (pesticide-free) white beeswax, and food-grade tangerine essential oil. 
Price: On sale at ecobold.com now for $9.99. It normally retails for $14.


Sigma E05 Eyeliner Brush
This brush makes creating fine or thick lines with cream products or wet shadows so easy. I've never been particularly good at putting on eyeliner, but I have noticed an improvement in the evenness of my application with this brush. It has dense bristles, but is doesn't agitate the eye. 
Price: $9 at sigmabeauty.com. Don't confuse this with the E10 Small Eyeliner brush - it is not the same. This link will take you to the right one. 


Sigma F32 Round Top Kabuki
I've used the flat top version of this brush for over a year, and I love how well it buffs product into the skin. I finally purchased the round top version, and I have to stay this is probably my favorite face brush ever. It buffs in product just as well as the flat version, but the round shape makes it easier to move around the contours of your face. It is also very soft and durable, with synthetic bristles. Sigma brushes may not be the cheapest on the market, but I think they are the best overall value.
Price: $16 at sigmabeauty.com


Everyday Minerals Soft Bronzer
I've really been enjoying this bronzer, because it is impossible to make yourself look orange or overdone with it. For pale skin tones, this is the perfect way to liven up your complexion and get and little color, without looking fake. I also love how affordable this bronzer is. Click here for my full review of Everyday Minerals bronzers.
EWG rating: 1
Ingredients: Mica, Lauroyl Lysine. May contain: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides.
Price: $4.50 (on-sale from $9) at everydayminerals.com


Coastal Classic Creations Eyeliner in Black Pearl
I keep coming back to this color for eyeliner because it is so easy to wear everyday. It is cool toned, so it will never make your eyes look tired or red. It also works great wet or dry. Check out here for my full review.
EWG rating: 1
IngredientsWhite cosmetic clay; high purity, filtered synthetic iron oxide black (CI 77499) and brown (CI 77499, CI 77492, CI 77491) (also listed as CI 77492)
Price: $18 at coastalclassiccreations.com


Priia Browz Now Mineral Brow Defining Creme in Auburn
The shade of this brow color is a really good match for my hair, and I really like the application of a cream more than powder. This tiny pot will last quite a while because only the smallest amount is necessarily, so it's a good value. Many of the other colors available would also work great as eyeliners. I've been thinking of getting the black and taupe colors to use for that purpose. Also, a little tip: a stiff angled brush is the easiest way to apply the product in the right shape!
EWG rating (preliminary): 1
Ingredients: Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Hydrogenated Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Mica, Iron Oxides. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide, Silica, Manihot Esculenta (Tapioca) Root Starch.
Price: $13 at priia.com


Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Lipstick in Karma
My new favorite natural peachy nude color! Just reviewed and swatched this product here.
EWG Rating: 1
Ingredients: canola oil, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter) fruit, beeswax, theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax, tocopherol (vitamin e), origanum vulgare (oregano) leaf extract, thymus vulgaris (thyme) extract, cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon) bark extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower extract, hydrastis canadensis (gold\n seal) root extract. May Contain: titanium dioxide, iron oxides, ultramarine blue, carmine, manganese violet.
Price: $11.99 at honeybeegardens.com


By Nieves C Perfect Skin
This serum has really helped smooth out my combination skin on my forehead - the part of my face that always wants to break out. My review full review of the By Nieves line is in the following post.
Ingredients: evening primrose oil, jojoba oil, organic sesame oil, squalane, ascorbyl palmitate, essential oils.
Price: $9 for the trial vial (shown above) or $35 for 2 oz. at bynieves.com


Vapour Illusionist Concealer in 010
I've been using this for months to cover imperfections, and it gives really nice coverage, especially considering how clean and natural the ingredients are. When you use it on an larger area with the Sigma brush from above to diffuse it, this concealer gives a nice airbrushed effect. I also really like that you can put this over an imprefection and know that it is not going to make it any worse. My full review on this concealer is here.
EWG rating: 2
Ingredients: Organic/Bio Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil, Organic/Bio Cera Alba (Beeswax), Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Silica, Essential Oils & Natural Fruit Essences, Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E), Boswellia Carteri (Frankincense)*, Organic/Bio Ocimum Sanctum (Tulsi/Holy Basil), Organic/Bio Nelumbo Nucifera (Lotus Flowers) [+/-: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, 77492, 77499), Mica (CI 77019)] *Wildcrafted
Price: $22 at vapourbeauty.com


Zuzu Luxe Mascara in Navy
Up until I started using Zuzu Luxe, I still kept a tube of L'Oreal Voluminious around for nighttime when I needed dramatic lashes. No matter what type of natural mascara I used, I was never satisfied with the volumizing effects. When I tried this mascara, I could not stop looking in the mirror at how thick my lashes looked. Soon after, I threw out Voluminious! This product is just so much better than your average natural mascara. Lately I've been using the Navy color because it is different but not too dramatic. I will have a full review coming soon.
EWG rating (preliminary): 2
Ingredients: Aqua, Cellulose Gum, Sorbitol, Stearic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Panthenol, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Leaf Extract, Tocopherol Acetate, Euphrasia Officinalis (Eyebright) Extract, Iron Oxides, Hectorite, Titanium Dioxide, Potassium Sorbate
Price: $16.70 at gabrielcosmeticsinc.com


Disclosure: Zuzu Luxe Mascara, By Nieves C Perfect Skin and Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Lipstick were sent to me as PR samples. The Sigma product links are affiliate links. As usual, opinions are 100% honest.

September 29, 2011

By Nieves skincare


I was recently contacted by Heidi of By Nieves cosmetics to sample their line of natural skincare. They make five products: Face Fix, Cloud of Protection, The Balm, C Perfect Skin Serum and Bath Salt. I recieved sample sizes of all of these products in a nice muslin bag, available on their website as the "Dabble Bag" for $20. Here's a little overview of the products:

Face Fix is a powder that you make into a masque by mixing it with basically whatever you want. I mixed it with Bragg's apple cider vinegar, and it smelled like apple pie on my face. It was a nice change up from the Aztec Secrets masque I usually use.

Cloud of Protection is a fragrance that can be used in the home or one yourself. I'm terrible at describing scents, but this has the smell of something kind of acidic, but not citrus. I think it smells very clean and fresh. In any case, it's very unique: I haven't smelled anything quite like it before. It's great to spray around the house to freshen everything up. The small bottle that comes in the kit is enough to last quite awhile.

The Balm has a very soft texture, and when you smell it straight for the container it has a faint licorice scent. However, when you apply it to your skin it smells completely different. I don't know how to describe it but it's really, really nice. Like, I'm a bit obsessed with the smell. It's also very moisturizing. I don't like to use this on my lips much, but it's great on my arms, elbows, hands, etc. The scent mixes well with the Cloud of Protection spray. I would definitely purchase the full size of this product - at $14 it is relatively affordable.

C Perfect Skin is a serum meant to help diminish signs of aging, sun damage, dark spots and scarring while protecting against further damage. I am lucky enough to not suffer from these skin problems, so I cannot speak for that. I did find it to be moisturizing, and it helped smooth and even out my skin. It smells very similar to the Cloud of Protection spray.

Bath Salt - I'm not really someone who uses bath salts, but this did make my tub smell very nice. 

I really enjoyed all of these products, especially when I followed the instructions card that came with it and used them all together for a little spa session. The thought was put into formulating them really shows. The C Perfect Skin and The Balm were the real standouts from the collection, and this kit would be a great little gift for any fan of natural beauty products. By Nieves products are available in stores in the Bay Area, and at bynieves.com.

Disclosure: These products were sent to me as a press sample by By Nieves. My opinions are 100% honest and I am not compensated for this review.

September 26, 2011

Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Lipstick in Karma

I have found a truly nude natural lipstick, and I'm so excited! I think I've mentioned before that I'm a huge, huge fan of nude lips. Not like "your lips but better" or natural colored, but close to flesh tone lips. It's a very modern, sophisticated look, but still very wearable. Many of the natural brands out there do not make very trendy colors of lipstick; I've seen a lot of deep mauves, taupes and muted reds available, and that's just not what I wear. I'm a fan of bright corals, orangy reds, baby pinks and nudes, most of all. That's why I'm so excited that Honeybee Gardens makes a lipstick that is truly nude and truly natural.
It's even more nude than it looks here...
The color is "Karma" and it a peachy toned nude. At first I thought it smelled a little funny, but now I kind of like it. It smells like thyme, which is much different than what you normally see in cosmetics. It is a full color lipstick - very opaque. You can dab it on for a more subtle color, or build it up. I don't think that this is a color would only look good on certain skin tones, I am personally of the opinion that anyone can pull off nude lips. Exfoliating the lips beforehand is an absolute must though.
The color is very similar to the very popular Revlon Soft Nude, which I used to love in my pre healthy makeup days. Here are some comparison swatches:

As for the ingredients, this lipstick is made of good for you ingredients like coconut oil and shea butter. There's also no artificial colors, which is very impressive for a lipstick! In terms of ingredients and performance, this product is a definite winner. I have my eye on some of their other colors, like Soft Kiss, a baby pink, and Desire, a bright red.

EWG Rating: 1
Ingredients: canola oil, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter) fruit, beeswax, theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax, tocopherol (vitamin e), origanum vulgare (oregano) leaf extract, thymus vulgaris (thyme) extract, cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon) bark extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower extract, hydrastis canadensis (gold\n seal) root extract. May Contain: titanium dioxide, iron oxides, ultramarine blue, carmine, manganese violet.
Price: $11.99 at honeybeegardens.com

Disclosure: A sample of this product was sent to me by Honeybee Gardens. Opinions are 100% honest and I am not compensated for this review.

September 4, 2011

Everyday Minerals bronzers review


One of the items I hauled from Everyday Minerals was their bronzer, in all three shades. On sale now at only $4.50 per container, this is an item that isn't any more expensive than the drugstore! I am really enjoying all three shades for different uses. The lightest color, Soft Bronzer, is the fairest shade I have ever seen for a bronzer product. So much so that on many skin tones it would actually lighten rather than deepen it. Since I'm very fair, this color actually works on me for a very subtle bronze. However, I'm a bit of a bronzing addict so I often mix this color with the two other darker colors. I would definitely recommend Everyday Bronzer and Happiness Bronzer for mid to deep skin tones. The darkest color, Happiness Bronzer, when used very lightly is great for contouring. 

What I really love about these bronzers is the packaging. It is much larger than a typical mineral product at 0.17 oz (Bare Escentuals is 0.7 oz). There also have a genius rotating piece inside the packaging that prevents product from spilling into the lid when you're on the go. Anyone who has traveled with minerals know what a mess it can be. Lastly, the lid is a much bigger circle, so you actually have plenty of room to work the product onto the brush. I'm not normally that into packing, but this product's packing is not only attractive but functional.

EWG rating: 1

Ingredients: Mica, Lauroyl Lysine. May contain: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides.
Ingredient note: very little information is available on Lauroyl Lysine. It is a derivative of lauric acid and l-lysine. It is also biodegradable. This ingredient is not particularly alarming to me, but it is something to consider before purchasing Everyday Minerals products. It is derived from coconut oil, so it does increase the chance of allergic reactions to the product.

Price: $9 at everydayminerals.com

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August 22, 2011

Pass on this: CoverGirl Natureluxe collection



Let me start off by saying that, in case you hadn't noticed, I have pretty high standards when it comes to makeup safety. I really won't use anything if there's even one ingredient I don't trust. That doesn't mean I really like going out of my way for good cosmetics. In fact, I used to love going to pick up out makeup at the drugstore. So when I recently noticed that CoverGirl had a new naturally marketed line, I really hoped it was for real.

August 19, 2011

Get this: Everyday Minerals Eye Kabuki Brush


Last week, I went a little nuts on the Everyday Minerals website. They just have so many affordable products, promos and freebies. But one of my purchases has stood out as an instant favorite: the Eye Kabuki brush. It is a densly packed and larger sized eye brush. The idea is obviously that it's a super mini version of a Kabuki brush that can be used to buff and blend eyeshadows and such. Very cute concept. I'm not kidding around when I say I'm a fan, I love this brush so much I've ordered another one already! Why?
  • It's unique! I haven't seen many super dense, large sized blending brushes.
  • This brush multitasks in so many ways. It is great for laying down a color all over the eye, blending out shadow that has already been placed, dabbing concealer on for pimples and discoloration, sweeping concealer on the undereye area (the triangle technique!), or to apply highlight. The options are limitless.
  • It can be used for both cream and powder products.
  • It is made of super soft synthetic fiber, so it is 100% cruelty free. It also just feels nice on your skin.
  • The bamboo handle is both elegant and sustainable.
  • At $7, this brush is a total bargain. For the quality you would think you were paying much more.
Obviously I highly recommend this brush, you can't go wrong with it. And if you're interested in more Everyday Minerals products, you will be definitely be seeing several posts about their items in the future....

August 13, 2011

Honeybee Gardens JobaColors eye liners: an overview

As promised in the last post, here is my overview of Honeybee Gardens eye liners! I'm a pretty big fan of these; they are close to an ideal beauty product for me. Here's why:

  • They perform as you would expect from their chemical-laden counterparts. These liners are smooth, semi long-lasting and blendable. They definitely don't last all day without setting with powder, but really what does?
  • They are affordable! I am getting sick of having to shell out tons of money for safe makeup. This reminds me of shopping in a drugstore again, when you can afford to try all of the colors.
  • The range of colors is great. They have two brown colors, grey, black, purple, blue and green. All of these are completely suitable for everyday wear, so you will actually get use out of any of the shades. 
I would pick the standout colors but I really love them all. I rotate through all of them everyday because they are all so wearable and pretty. The Brown Sugar color is probably too light to wear as a liner for most skin tones, but it makes a great eyeshadow base.

So these liners perform the same as their mainstream counterparts, are inexpensive, come in a range of colors that I would actually wear, and are composed of non-toxic ingredients. What more could you ask for?

EWG rating: 1
*One safety note is that the 1 rating on EWG does not take into account Ozokerite Wax, because the database doesn't have any information on it. It is very similar to several other cosmetics ingredients that are safe. I have also searched around on this substance, and cannot find anything of concern. If anyone has any more information on its safety, please let me know in the comments below, or send me an email!

Price: $4.32 - 5.99 at vitacost.com 

Ingredientsricinus communis (castor) seed oil, ozokerite wax, ethylhexyl palmitate (vegetarian), simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, lanolin oil, beeswax, theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, cetearyl alcohol (vegetarian), copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax. May Contain: black iron oxide, brown iron oxide, mica.

August 6, 2011

Late summer favorites

Can you believe it's already August? That means even more intense heat and humidity to come... I've been trying to keep the makeup simple with a few key products to keep me looking fresh, awake and ready for the long hot days:
From left to right: rms beauty Cream Eye Shadow in Lunar, Priia Creamy Mineral Under Eye Concealer in Light Salmon, Honeybee Gardens JobaColors Eye Liner in Smoking Gun, Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar and Zosimos Botanicals Butternut Bronzer


rms beauty Cream Eye Shadow in Lunar
If you missed my review on all of the shades, check it out here. I've been reaching for this product all the time for two reasons. One is that it is neutral and totally appropriate for day wear as an eyeshadow. The second is that is makes a really great subtle highlight. I use this on the cheekbones, inner corner of the eye and under the browbone. The color is so pretty and complex: golden, champagne, creamy shimmer. It gives you a nice natural glow.
EWG Rating: 1
Ingredients: *Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, *Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba)Seed Oil, *Theorbroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Tocopherol (non-GMO), *Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract. May contain [+/-]: Titanium Dioxide CI 77891, Iron Oxides CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, Mica CI 77019, Carmine CI 75470. *Certified Organic
Price: $28 at rmsbeauty.com or spiritbeautylounge.com


Priia Creamy Mineral Under Eye Concealer in Light Salmon
I used to love Benefit's Eye Bright, and I was really missing it. Thanks to Stefi on Healthy Beauty Social, I discovered something that comes pretty close. Priia's concealer is a pinky flesh color that totally eliminates discoloration under the eyes, and makes everything bright. I actually love putting this all over the eye area: on dark circles, under the browbone, in inner corners, and even on the lid to look fresh and awake. This and the rms beauty shadow work so well together.
EWG Rating (preliminary): 1
Ingredients: Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Hydrogenated Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Mica, Zinc Oxide, Iron Oxides, Silica.
Price: $14 at priia.com


Honeybee Gardens JobaColors Eye Liner in Smoking Gun
I am so psyched to tell you about this line of liners (ha) in a future post, but for now I will just say I especially love the grey color. Grab one of these at vitacost.com - for the price you will feel like you're shopping in the drugstore again!
EWG rating: 1
Ingredients:  Ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, ozokerite wax, ethylhexyl palmitate (vegetarian), simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, lanolin oil, beeswax, theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, cetearyl alcohol (vegetarian), copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax. May Contain: black iron oxide, brown iron oxide, mica. Ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, ozokerite wax, ethylhexyl palmitate (vegetarian), simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, lanolin oil, beeswax, theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, cetearyl alcohol (vegetarian) and copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax.
Price: $4.32 at vitacost.com


Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
Yes, there's so many uses! But I'm really stuck on one right now. I have combination skin and live in a humid climate, so my skin often gets sticky and yucky. This totally freshens up my face and works amazingly as an astringent for the oily sections . It has also left my skin more clear and even than I've seen it in a long time. It keeps you face so clean, and I'm obsessed with vinegar so I love the smell. It's also affordable, accessible and versatile. Solid.
Price: $3.29 at Bragg.com or a health food store near you! 


Zosimos Botanicals Butternut Bronzer
I'm going through bronzer like crazy right now! After I finished off my bareMinerals Faux Tan, I rediscovered my first favorite non-toxic bronzer. This one also gives a nice natural looking glow, and the ingredients are even more pure! At $20 a pop, this bronzer is on the expensive side, but this is a great trustworthy, natural and handmade company.
EWG Rating: 1
Ingredients: Mica, Iron Oxides, Tapioca Starch.
Price: $20 at zosimosbotanicals.com


*Soapwalla Deodorant is also a must have right now, but I just wrote a review on it.

Click though for swatches!


July 24, 2011

Soapwalla deodorant: believe the hype!



I am far from the first beauty blogger to talk about Soapwalla deodorant, but I figured I would also personally vouch for this stuff. This product is super good. It prevents odor and keeps you somewhat dry. I've used several other natural deodorants before, with mixed results. Some did almost nothing, some did a good job of preventing odor. None prevented wetness. That was a huge problem for me because my skin would get agitated by the combination of sweat and product, and I would get itchy, red, stinging pits. Yuck! (I know). I favorited Soapwalla about a year ago on Etsy, but I wasn't prompted to actually order it until I read about it in several places (Product Junkies Rehab had a good review).

July 22, 2011

rms beauty cream eye shadow



Recently, I got my hands rms's cream shadows. I was lured in by the beautiful color selection and luxurious glass and metal packaging. They just look so creamy, shimmery and wearable. The good news is that the colors are just as gorgeous in person as they are online:



So, what's the verdict on their performance? I like these shadows, with some reservations. rms is very upfront about the benefits and drawbacks of it's product. They say these shadows are a combination of an eye cream and an eye shadow - so they are actually very moisturizing. They never claim they are creaseless - and they certainly aren't. In fact, the blog instructs that when they crease during the day, you can rub your finger over the shadow to smooth it out. I know some people actually like creased shadow because it looks "rocker chic." I'm not one of them, but if you are, go for this product!

If you lay this product on as thick as they are in the swatches above, you will end up with a gloppy (yet nourishing) mess around your eyes, especially if you are facing hot humid weather. If you lay them on very sheerly, they will work the best, but they won't have very good color payoff:


I found a solution that is sort of a happy medium between these two techniques. I build the color little by little by rubbing a small amount in, and then going over it a few times, making sure to rub it in with each application. These shadows and they are now a staple in my routine. Most of them can also be worn on the face or lips - so versatile! Lunar and Solar are great for everyday eye shadows, and I love using Magnetic and Spark at night. The latter to are the standout colors. Spark is especially fantastic for that reddish coppery look that is so trendy right now. If you are interested in trying them, I suggest ordering samples from spiritbeautylounge.com.

In terms of safety, this company is absolutely awesome. Their ingredients are very pure and straightforward, and reading the ingredients page on their website is not only impressive but informative. This brand deserves to be highly trusted.

EWG rating: 1

Where to buy: $28 at spiritbeautylounge.com

Ingredients: *Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil,*Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Simmondsia Chinesis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, *Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Tocopherol(non-GMO), *Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Extract. May contain: Titanium Dioxide CI 77891, Iron Oxides CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, Mica CI 77019, Carmine CI 75470
*Certified Organic

*affiliate links.
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